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Ep 335: The Grape Miniseries-- Gewurztraminer

Wine for Normal People

Release Date: 07/22/2020

Ep 384: Txakolina --The Wine of Basque Country show art Ep 384: Txakolina --The Wine of Basque Country

Wine for Normal People

The Basque Country in northeastern Spain lies on the Bay of Biscay and abuts the Pyrenees Mountains, a mere 18 mi/30 km from the French border. Until about a decade ago, this area was relatively unknown as a wine region. But with the rise of Basque cuisine, an increased interest from wine buyers in native varietals, and a thirst for lighter wines, Txakolina (chock-o-LEEN-ah), a white, high acid, spritz wine started to gain ground. In this show, we discuss this historic region and its wine traditions.

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Ep 383: Domaine Wachau of Austria - One of Europe's Best Co-Ops with Roman Horvath, MW show art Ep 383: Domaine Wachau of Austria - One of Europe's Best Co-Ops with Roman Horvath, MW

Wine for Normal People

Roman Horvath, a Master of Wine, is the Winery Director of Domaine Wachau, a leading Austrian wine producer. The Domaine is actually a cooperative, meaning it is run by & owned by individual growers. But whereas most co-ops in Europe produce seas of mediocre wines, Domaine Wachau is known for its wines of origin & pure flavor. Roman tells us about the Domaine's range of Gr├╝ner Veltliner and Riesling that reflect terroir & show that under the right management, the co-op system can make unbelievable wines!

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Ep 382: Don Kavanagh on Wine's Next Wave and The End of the Cult of the Somm show art Ep 382: Don Kavanagh on Wine's Next Wave and The End of the Cult of the Somm

Wine for Normal People

Don Kavanagh, editor of Wine-Searcher's news division, returns to talk about wine's next wave and Wine-Searcher's article: "Farewell to the 'Cult of the Somm.'" We discuss how the wine world is shaping up in a post-pandemic world where a shift towards stay-at-home drinking and more casual dining will likely be lasting trends. We discuss how sommelier "influencer" culture is dead, and what may be next. Don is infinitely entertaining; this podcast is bound to delight (unless you're a snobby sommelier!).

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Ep 381: Wines for a Barbecue show art Ep 381: Wines for a Barbecue

Wine for Normal People

Barbecues are fun, but having wine at themÔÇŽnot so much! The food at barbecues ranges but the theme is that even though they generally occur in the dead of summer, the food is very heavy and served warm so the wines we needed for pairing arenÔÇÖt necessarily the same ones weÔÇÖd have for sipping on the porch. In this show, we go over the main foods we have at BBQs and break down some of their constituent components so we can find the best wines for them.┬á

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Ep 380: Wine Moves North to Brittany & Beyond with Barnaby Eales show art Ep 380: Wine Moves North to Brittany & Beyond with Barnaby Eales

Wine for Normal People

As the climate has changed, winegrowers have been seeking terroir where natural acidity and lightness can shine in the bottle. In this show, really about the future of cool climate wine, you'll get an idea of what is coming next and where we'll find food friendly, balanced wines in decades to come. I give a short intro about the wines of Scandinavia (another cool climate choice), then journalist Barnaby Eales joins to discuss his latest article about the new wine regions in the NW area of Brittany, France.

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Ep 379: The Main Alternatives to Oak --All About Concrete Eggs and Amphoras show art Ep 379: The Main Alternatives to Oak --All About Concrete Eggs and Amphoras

Wine for Normal People

Oak stabilizes color and smooths tannins, some think of it as a seasoning ingredient. But what about the other vessels that are increasingly popular for fermentation and aging? What do they do? We discuss the main alternatives to oak -- concrete eggs and amphoras --and the benefits of each. The show is a hybrid of discussion and interview, as I welcome Steve Rosenblatt of Sonoma Cast Stone, who manufactures concrete eggs and tanks, and Debbie Passin of VinEthos.com who sells next generation amphoras.

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Ep 378: Prosecco -- The wine, the region, and how to get the best bottles show art Ep 378: Prosecco -- The wine, the region, and how to get the best bottles

Wine for Normal People

In this show we go over the details of the Prosecco region, the winemaking techniques, and I share the most important thing about the wine and how to get the best: the DOCGs that make way better wine than the cheap and cheerful stuff at the supermarket. By the end of the show youÔÇÖll understand why Prosecco shouldn't be compared to Champagne (spoiler alert ÔÇô itÔÇÖs not made the same and thatÔÇÖs on purpose!) and how to get better versions of what you may already be sipping!

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Ep 377: The Wines of Beaujolais and its Ten Divine Cru show art Ep 377: The Wines of Beaujolais and its Ten Divine Cru

Wine for Normal People

Beaujolais is a unique, standalone wine region in central eastern France. Crafted from the Gamay grape, Beaujolais wines and terroir are like no other on earth. The challenge as wine lovers: we must know what weÔÇÖre looking for -- the 10 cru emphasize their individual cru on the label and Beaujolais is in small print. But if you can remember (or bookmark!) these names, you are in for some of the most interesting, best value reds available. These are wines to discover. Once you do, youÔÇÖll drink them forev

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Ep 376: The 1976 Judgment of Paris -- the Tasting That Made California Wine Famous show art Ep 376: The 1976 Judgment of Paris -- the Tasting That Made California Wine Famous

Wine for Normal People

It is the 45th Anniversary of the Judgment of Paris: a 1976 tasting of California and French wines, organized but the late Steve Spurrier, that opened the door for wines from the US and all over the New World to be recognized for their excellence. We should raise a glass to him, his business partner Patricia Gallagher, and to journalist George Taber, all of whom made this event so very significant and helped elevate California and New World wines to "World Class" status!

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Ep 375: Phil Long of Longevity Wines -- Bringing Heart to CA's Livermore Valley show art Ep 375: Phil Long of Longevity Wines -- Bringing Heart to CA's Livermore Valley

Wine for Normal People

Phil Long of Longevity Wines is a true Garagiste ÔÇô he began his making wine in the garage with his late wife Debra and by 2008, the couple quit their full-time jobs and opened their winery in the Livermore Valley, a sub-AVA of the Central Coast with hot days and cool nights. Phil is known for his balanced wines of Bordeaux and Rhone varietals. He is also the President of the Association of African American Vintners and has been a key player in discussions around the lack of diversity in the wine industry.

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That's right, no umlaut for my show notes on this grape. I consider Alsace the true home of this grape and the place we should be looking for the most spectacular versions. For that reason, I stick with the French way of spelling it ­čśë

Gewurztraminer (guh-VERTZ-tra-MEEN-ah)is one of the most distinctive grapes and makes one of the most overtly perfumed, full-bodied whites in existence. The lychee, rose, citrus, incense, and smokey notes can be intoxicatingly fantastic or WAY too much.

Here are some quick show notes on the grape's past and regions where it's grown. 

Gewurzt grappes@2x

 

Aromas and Flavors

  • "Gew├╝rz" means ÔÇťspiceÔÇŁ or "herb" but the grape was named so because of it's high levels of perfume and aromatics (it can smell like warm spices and pepper, but that's not the origin of the name)
  • The Gew├╝rztraminer grape is actually pink to red in skin color and it generally makes deep gold wines, sometimes with a copper tinge

 

  • The grape has high natural sugar, so sometimes sweetness remains in the wine and many times the ABV reaches 14%
  • The most distinctive aromas and flavors of Gew├╝rztraminer are: lychee, peach, melon, oranges, tropical fruit, roses, ginger, incense, smoke, pepper and sweeter spices

 

  • The effect of the aromas and flavors are so strong, they are sometimes too much for people, especially because bad versions of the wine have low acidity and can be flabby. Good versions strike a BALANCE between richness and acid, and avoid the bitterness possible from the phenolics of the darker skins. 

 

DNA/Parentage

  • The grape is a derivative of the ancient Traminer grape from the village of Tramin in South Tyrol, which is in Alto-Adige in the northeast of Italy
    • Pinot is its parent
    • Gewurztraminer is an aromatic (musqu├ę) version of Savagnin

 

In the vineyard

  • Gew├╝rztraminer is extremely picky. It's hard to grow, needing cool sites and limestone, marl, or granite soils to shine.
  • If picked too early, the resulting wine will have acidity but be missing the beautiful aromatics we expect from Gew├╝rztraminer. If picked the overripe, the aromas are too strong, the acidity too low, and a bitterness creeps in, that makes the wine completely unpalatable

Regions:

  • Alsace in France makes the best Gewurztraminer.  There are only 7,000 acres or so but this is the best there is. The styles range from very dry to very sweet (Vendange Tardive, Selection de Grains Nobles).
    • Top Alsace Producers of Gew├╝rztraminer: L├ęon Beyer, Zind Humbrecht, Mur├ę, Schlumberger, Cattin, Domaine Weinbach

 

  • Germany makes Gew├╝rztraminer (with the umlaut!) but it is very different from the wines of Alsace. There are about 2,000 acres here and much of it is in a relatively dry style, that seems to unfortunately crush the flamboyant nature of the grape. In a cool country like Germany, the grape needs warm sites to avoid spring frost and assure fruit set, so 2/3 of German "Traminer" is in Baden and Pfalz.

 

  • Italy is the native home of the grape -- it began on the cool slopes of the Alps in Trentino Alto-Adige and the grape is named after the town of Tramin. Styles run the gamut so it's important to buy from good producers. Elena Walch and Hofstatter are two solid ones. 

  • Other places the grape grows in Europe include: Luxembourg, Spain, Switzerland, Austria (in Styria, specifically), Hungary, Slovenia, Romania and all over Eastern Europe, although likely it is not the clone of Gew├╝rztraminer we see in Alsace, but some less aromatic version. 

 

New World:

  • Australia has plantings in South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, and New South Wales

 

  • New Zealand has had success on the North Island, near Gisbourne and Hawkes Bay

 

  • Chile has some promising spots in the south

 

  • Canada grows Gew├╝rztraminer in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia, and in Ontario, Prince Edward County, the Niagara Peninsula, among other spots

 

  • In the US: Washington, Oregon, the Finger Lakes of New York, and my favorite spot: Navarro Vineyards in Anderson Valley

To wrap, we discuss good food pairings: spices like ginger, tamarind, coriander, and salty things like soy sauce or tahini are great with Gewurztraminer. 

 

We decide that Gew├╝rztraminer is like our dog, Ellie. Very cute, awesome when awesome, but kind of a diva about everything! 

 

Go and try some great versions of this wine! I promised MC Ice we would get a Grand Cru of Alsace to try so I could prove that there IS a version out there he would like. I will keep you posted! 

 

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